Monday, July 14, 2008

Take It Back!

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.

                        John 10.10

The Moment of Truth

As children, adults ask us, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Typically, this question is posed for their amusement; few things are more delightful than hearing a four-year-old say, “I’m going to be an astronaut (or firefighter, ballet dancer, football player, teacher, etc.)” The issue picks up gravity, however, as we age and reality kicks in. Even those of us who realize our childhood ambitions start to wonder what we’re doing, what we’ve done, or what we’ll do with our lives.

This is not the lighthearted question we answered so blithely as children. It asks us to assess what we can accomplish with what we’ve been given. It pushes us out of the pearly glow of naïve dreams, into the harsh light of reckoning with our capabilities and circumstances. In this moment of truth, we have two options. We can either make excuses for our shortcomings or recommit to living our lives at their full capacity.

Reclaiming Our Full Potential

So what’s our real potential? Knowing that begins with recognizing we live in a sinful world. Jesus described its governing spirit as a thief. It steals our focus. It kills our hopes. It destroys our confidence. It depletes us on every level—morally, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. It does its best to rob every asset and talent God invested in us, replacing it with negativity and doubt.

We need to take back what’s been stolen from us. There’s no profit in blaming or complaining about those who’ve chiseled away at our possibilities. What’s done is done. It’s up to us to muster the courage to reclaim our full potential: our sense of pride and significance as God’s creation. He made us exactly as He did and gave us all we have to be everything He wants us to be.

Christ’s Purpose

Our restoration was Jesus’s primary purpose. He ushered a new spirit into the world—a life of love, tolerance, and faith that enables us to defeat the thieving, destructive mentalities around us. It’s not through confrontation that we win, though. We triumph by living to the fullest.

In Philippians 4.13, Paul says, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” With Christ on our side, we’re strong and mighty. Once we regain what we’ve lost, it’s completely within our power to prevent its ever being stolen again. It’s time to take it all back and do everything we can with it.

Postscript: “She Was Robbed!”

A news story last year garnered international coverage as one of those who-would-even-think-of-such-a-thing items that we find so compelling. It also offers a perfect modern-day parable of the malicious, thieving spirit at work in our world.

Tacoma woman's house emptied after craigslist hoax

The Associated Press

TACOMA — Many people have had success buying, selling and swapping goods on the Web site craigslist, but one Tacoma woman says she was robbed.

Laurie Raye said she had everything stripped from her home after someone placed a fake ad on the San Francisco-based Internet site, a collection of online classifieds.

"The instigator who published this ad invited the public to come in and vandalize me," Raye told Seattle television station KING.

Raye had recently evicted a tenant and cleaned out the rental.

The ad posted last weekend welcomed people to take for free anything they wanted from the home. It has since been pulled from the site, but not before the residence was stripped of light fixtures, the hot water heater and the kitchen sink.

Neighbors said they saw strangers hauling items away, apparently looking for salvage material.

Even the front door and a vinyl window were pilfered, Raye said.

"In the ad, it said come and take what you want. Everything is free," she said. "Please help yourself to anything on the property."

While this was certainly unusual in a lot of ways, it also reflects what happens regularly to all of us. The thief plants the notion we’re available to be stripped of our God-given identity, dignity, and assets. Gullible, self-serving people seize the opportunity to take as much from us as they want. And often, like Laurie Raye, we’re totally unaware that they’re cleaning us out.

In the craigslist case, the culprit turned out to be a disgruntled niece who devised the hoax in revenge after Ms. Raye evicted her mother. Knowing the perpetrator didn’t help her reclaim the property stolen by dozens of anonymous opportunists. It’s different with us. We know Christ and He gives us the strength to find what we’ve lost and take it back.

Laurie Raye's home after a horde of unwitting thieves ransacked it.

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